Rheumatoid arthritis is a common joint problem with about 0.5% of adult men and 1.0% of adult women having rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis involves immunological processes that cause swelling of the synovial fluid located between the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is especially common in feet, ankles, knees, hands, and proximal (inner) joints on each finger.
Morning stiffness of an hour or more duration is common with rheumatoid arthritis. Other features can often develop with rheumatoid arthritis including formation of nodules on skin or lung, subtle neurological changes, anemia (low red blood cell level), and swelling of the pericardial sac around the heart. About 20 to 30% of people with rheumatoid arthritis suffer disabling problems which causes them to be unable to work.
Many drugs are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, however, most of them have common side effects. Diet may be useful to treat rheumatoid arthritis. A number of studies have reported that daily consumption of fatty fish or fish oil (rich in omega 3 fats) is useful in reducing the pain and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis. Another study reported a significant reduction in pain in patients switched to a Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean Diet is rich in fish, fruits, vegetables and legumes such as beans. Much more study of the effects of diet on rheumatoid arthritis is needed.
A good summary of the effects of nutrition on rheumatoid arthritis is found in the May 2010 Journal of the American